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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2006 10:28 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2005 3:49 pm
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The trouble with Konas is that they're a bit, ummm, mass market? They made the Hot in the US, and the Hei Hei/ King Kahuna from Ti, but otherwise they were always run-of-the-mill steel frames with good geometry. For this reason a lot of people owned them and liked them (because they rode better than a price-equivalent Trek or Marin. Those people then want something a little more special, and they're willing to pay a whole load of cash for a Ti Kona, or perhaps a Hot.

Instead, perhaps they should look (as the more enlightened members of our congregation have suggested) at the other alternatives for the price - a custom Setavento with warranty for those wedded to the geometry, or something a little nicer/ less 'masstige' retro for the same sort of money - to be honest I'd be surprised if I could get any more cash for my Merlin XLM frame, despite it costing over 50% more when new, and arguably having a better justification for the price (Massachussets built, probably the best welds in the business, a geneology that can be traced right back to the early MTBs etc etc....)

Oh, and perhaps (those in glass houses throwing stones aside) we ought to get away from the fixation on titanium - no, it won't magically propel you down the trail, sweeping all obstacles from your path. Ceteris Paribus, I'd imagine most riders wouldn't notice the ride difference between Ti and a top-end steel tubeset. Both will last into obsolescence given a little care and attention, and for the money you'd pay for off-the-shelf Ti, you can get custom steel from someone like Robin Mather.


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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2006 10:33 pm 
Old School Grand Master
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Yeah good point.

It is wierd cos I (and some of you) have seen handbuilt steel frames up for sale (Chas Roberts , Yates etc) and noone really is bothered. Stick a mass produced basic double butted Lavadome up for sale and people are willing to pay over 100 quid for the frame alone.

All a bit wierd really.

What I find more fascinating is the lack of interest in aluminium hardtails... I think Adams handbuilt top of range Kona Ku (new!) only went for 160 or so on Ebay. Kleins and Yetis aside, aluminium just isnt cool at all anymore....

Sad really baring in mind most manufacturers had aluminium flagships/top rangers...


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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2006 11:06 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2005 3:49 pm
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jez-2-many-bikes wrote:
What I find more fascinating is the lack of interest in aluminium hardtails...

Sad really baring in mind most manufacturers had aluminium flagships/top rangers...


But isn't that just the issue - they used to have those as their range-toppers. Today, carbon is lighter, quite possibly stronger (catastrophic failure notwithstanding), and far sexier for mass market consumers. Ti frames are a real boutique purchase, as they always were, but are now confined even further into the 'rich boys toys' niche than they were before - great frames at good prices (Setavento, Cotic Soda, Charge Duster), but how often do you see racers on Ti bikes?

Aluminium still has this stigma around fatigue life - so people think old alloy frames will die (which may be true for a lot of top-end superlight race frames), and there's the notion that it's harsh and unforgiving (probably true in the context of middle-market bikes). And how many truly exotic frames were made of alloy? Most volume producers used alloy, and some made a business from it (Cannondale), but the real indy frames were usually steel because it was cheaper to get set up to build with.


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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 9:35 am 
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I agree with you Simon, Kona have churned out masses of more affordable frames, folk who enjoy the ride geometry and would like something more "exclusive" therefore have to shell out a load of cash to purchase the "high end" Kona frame that they want.

What I don't agree on is the view that Merlin or Litespeed make anything more "special", perhaps I can be convinced otherwise but nothing I've read so far has convinced me. Merlin and Litespeed do make very good frames (I own a Rob V Merlin Mountain) but are they any more exclusive and better made than the ti Kona's? I don't think so. You may cite the butting of the XLM and yes it does save some weight but it doesn't improve the ride characteristics and when you weigh as much as we do, up to half a pound of weight saved is neither here or there.

Here's some Kona blurb:

KING KAHUNA

King Kahuna is made by Titanium Sports in Kennewick, Washington. All of the tubing continues to be made strictly of Sandvik aerospace certified titanium alloy tubing. The frame is used by the Kona Factory team and is the best cross-country hardtail race frame that we make. It is available as a frame set or complete bike, with the Kona Factory Kit component group (King Kahuna specifications in the Kona catalog).

Sandvik custom drawn and directional shape seamless 3-2.5 titanium frame with reinforcing gussets.
Sandvik custom drawn and tapered seamless 3-2.5 titanium chain stays and seat stays.
6-4 titanium plate dropouts made with "Bullet" plugs for superior strength & perfect rear wheel alignment.

The Merlin's aren't built any better.... they're just different. Were they really worth the extra loot?? Debatable I'd say.

Genealogy.. well, the manufacturers mentioned have been building bikes for so long now that they all have excellent pedigree and heritage.

:)


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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 11:20 am 
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I must admit the welds on my fat ti are really nice compared with the headtube welds on the Kona. However the welds arond the BB areas on the Kona are quite awesome...


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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 11:23 am 
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Blimey, It has all gone a bit serious.

Bear in mind we are all on a retro forum and therefore are looking at it from one perspective, or rather retrospective!

The mass market sales of Kona is a double edge sword. Many of us were first aquainted with MTBs by the mass market brands that were readily accessible in good old MBUK. The most accessible 'propper' bikes were Kona, Specialized, Trek, Marin and higher up the price ladder, Klein and Cannondale. Before I joined this forum I hadn't even heard of Mountian Goat, Trimble or the other covetted, esoteric bikes.

I knew of lightspeed, Yeti and Manitou but they just weren't affordable to a young lad, neither were cutom bikes like Yates and Roberts.

What a lot of us here - and the Kona grabbers on Ebay, paying as much for a humble Lava Dome than say an nice NOS Ku - are doing (or were doing before it all got a bit addictive!) are getting the bikes we either had or wanted. I always wanted the posher Konas cos I had a Kona and was attched to it. I never wanted a Yeti because it was beyond my reach. Buying an old second hand Yeti wouldn't satiate that dormant hunger I had been clinging to. It would - and being very honest without truing to upset anyone - be an expensive second hand bike.

The whole retro vibe goes way beyong bikes, the market for Star Wars toys and Atari games systems. It is stupid money, paid for largely by boys who can now afford their toys. Why Konas I don't know. They didn't outsell Trek, Specialized or Marin in the first place but maybe it is because they looked different, are more available or are discussed to high heaven in threads like this and sites like mine! A self fulfilling profecy? The more they sell the more in demand they are percieved?

I genuinely think Konas were different, the geometry, even the paint jobs. But since, say 1999, some one summed it up aptly with the phrase "Halfords Konas". They became ordinary (although the 2006 range looks good!) I don't think I'd buy a new one. Interstlingly, I have bought a Setavento! What does that say?

Phew. I'm spent.


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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 11:26 am 
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...and breathe...


Yeah - I was in Halfords t'other day. Konas now look awful. Cheap. Nasty. Horrible.


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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 11:26 am 
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Hey Jez. Your a moderator. That's like being on the board! Please dont tell me you are Treasurer!!


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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 12:18 pm 
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Hmm.... custom frames are great if you're an odd shape (tall or small, long legs, short arms and vice versa etc) but if you're a normal (ish) size like most of the population then surely a standard sized frame would be ok? Would a degree/minute here and an eighth of an inch there really make any difference that moving the seat a fraction or using a different stem wouldn't do?

:)


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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 12:21 pm 
BoTM Winner
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:23 pm
Posts: 2765
Location: NW England
adamgent wrote:
since, say 1999, some one summed it up aptly with the phrase "Halfords Konas".


Same thing happened to GT's and even Saracens, I remember the old Kili-Flyers used to be cracking (no pun) bikes.


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